The Building Hope Expansion creates a lot of positive change for our hospital campus: the addition of spaces that are physically and functionally flexible; design that promotes a safe and healing environment; spaces that improve flow and efficiency; and much, much more. It also provides an opportunity to improve our current wayfinding structure – how people find their way around our large, complex and hilly hospital campus.

“Wayfinding” includes everything from signage and maps to colors, design schemes and visual cues – anything that helps people identify where they are and gets them where they want to go.

A team of people – including staff, patient families and consultants – is working on coming up with this new and improved wayfinding system. Before they set out to tackle the logistics of changing the ways we find our way around campus, they developed three guiding principles:

• The project must focus on the patient and family experience

• Wayfinding must be simplified and humanized

• Wayfinding must reflect Seattle Children’s mission and brand

Starting with restructuring zones, the wayfinding team developed several themes to consolidate the hospital’s many zones into fewer, more clearly related zones to create a story in the wayfinding journey. There was a strong desire to tie the zone concept to the Seattle Children’s brand by emphasizing our Pacific Northwest identity. Zone themes were then tested with staff members, patients of all ages and patient family members. The theme that emerged as a favorite from this work relates to a Northwest environment concept: forest, river, mountain and ocean. These four new zones – which replace the hospital’s six current zones – will be tied together by a trail that will help patients and families navigate from one end of campus to the other.

The Forest zone will incorporate the new buildings in the Building Hope campus expansion, while the other zones will align as follows: the River zone will include the current Giraffe and Train zones; the Mountain zone will include the current Rocket and Balloon zones; and the Ocean zone will include the current Whale and Airplane zones.]

“There are many advantages to this scheme,” says Todd Johnson, vice president of Facilities. “There are clear zone distinctions; and each incorporates natural and nurturing elements, reflects Children’s Pacific Northwest identity and offers rich design possibilities appropriate for people of all ages.”

Additional design elements that will be used in the new wayfinding include:

• Distinct colors to identify each zone

• Unique icons to provide instant recognition of each zone

• Use of select universal symbols to complement text on signs

• Artwork that relates to the theme of each zone

“We are testing and will continue to test things like color, font size, placement of signage, use of symbols and wording throughout this project,” says Sandy Miller, director of Facility Planning. “We are working very hard to make sure that the new wayfinding reflects this project’s guiding principles, and that we’re developing something that works both now and as we continue to expand in the future.”

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we’ll share more information about the new wayfinding!